A long post with pics!

It seems like I’ve had pretty much nothing to blog about in weeks!  Who wants to hear about my everyday… day-to-day life?  I have to wait till something at least semi-remarkable happens to blog.  Maybe that’s silly.  Maybe I really should blog about the humdrum, the run of the mill, but I don’t.  I mean, who wants to know about my latest trip to the grocery store or the outlet mall or the dentist (I did all three today!)?  Who wants to hear about the insanely dreary weather we have trudged through since last November?   I decided with all the devastating weather that has happened in recent days in the midwest, that I’d just SHUT UP about the fact that we’ve had rain all but about 10 days since last N0v.  That I’d keep mum about the “S.A.D.” (seasonal affective disorder) that ALL of Western Washington is struggling through these days.  About how downright insane people from these parts get when we actually have two days of sunshine in a row!   Who would be interested to learn that we’ve been watching hockey, hockey, Stanley Cup Hockey, (GO CANUCKS!) and soccer, soccer, soccer of late?  Maybe it’s just plain wrong for me to use “we” in that last sentence.  Instead of all that mundane stuff, I’ll share our latest news.

The Chevy Blazer

Last week we said a final goodbye to our 2001 Chevy Blazer.  It was a great car for us for several years and certainly served it’s purpose of keeping me safe in the snow and heavy rain on my way to work in the winter.  But all good things must come to an end.  With all of our vehicles rapidly approaching or reaching the 100,000 mile mark, we needed something with a bit of life left in it.  It also needed to be 4WD and able to navigate the steep hills of our neighborhood in the snow.  This new vehicle also needed to be reliable and priced fairly reasonably as well as good on gas.  Hmmmm….. what did we find that would fit all these stiff requirements?   Meet our newest addition to the family:

Here it is, on a rare sunny day, our new 2011 Honda CRV.  This car does it all.  You just have to speak to it!  “A/C on”  “Fan speed three” “Call John’s cell” “Nearest McDonalds” etc etc etc.  It has a back-up camera (ahem. how have I been successfully backing up without it all these years?!) a navigation system … AND….

What’s this????  Oh.  Of course.  No car is complete without it!  A Wolverhampton Wanderers (English Premiership Soccer) decal.  Funny thing… here in the USA we call it a “de-cal”.  Hubby’s got me calling it a “deckle” – the English pronunciation  for a sticker you put on your car.

Buying a car is always an experience that I’d sooner forget….. yet this time it wasn’t too bad.  Hubby told “the manager” that he’d pay XXX for the car and after a few minutes “the manager” knew hubby meant business, and came through with the right $$.   ONLY FIVE HOURS later we walked out of the dealership as “Happy Honda owners”.  This is hubby’s first Honda and my second.  Son #2 surely remembers Honda #1.  He was the last person to drive it in 1995 when it was totaled on a snowy road.  Son #2 was just 16 at the time.  Honda #1 was a great car.  Hopefully Honda #2 will be as well.  No teenagers, repeat no teenagers will be driving Honda #2.

On to another subject: New Years Resolutions.   You may remember that early this year I decided I’d do my best to “go through every drawer, every closet, every dusty box in the garage” and DE-CLUTTER my home.  Well, my progress toward that goal is far from complete, but I have definitely made a dent into decluttering.  So far we’ve taken one SUV-load of stuff to the Goodwill.  This week I’ve gathered another huge black garbage bag full of stuff and more to come.  A lot of the stuff is clothes.  I’m happy to report that although it was NOT one of my New Years Resolutions, I’ve been able to rid my body of one and one half STONE of F.A.T.  Actually a teeny bit more than 1.5 stone.  Twenty-two pounds to be exact.  YAY!  I’ve looked at my clothes with new eyes and discovered a lot of stuff that I didn’t want to keep.  I (very briefly) considered a garage sale for some of our castoffs.  Then I remembered a promise I made to myself the last time we had a garage sale.  NO MORE GARAGE SALES.  I absolutely love to go to them, but putting them on is a different monster altogether.  No, I’ll donate the clothes and misc and I’ll be ever so happy about it.  On the subject of F.A.T…. I’d like to lose another 10 pounds and then I’ll be fairly content.  Not that I think that will happen right away.  It took 5 months for the first 22 to come off.  People have asked me the obvious question: Has losing weight helped the pain in your hip?  The answer: NO.  I’m sure it cant hurt to have less F.A.T. pressing down on my hip, but to be perfectly honest, the darn hip still hurts just as bad.  It is seriously messed up and I think it would kill me even if I were emaciated!!!   Which brings me to another subject…. FOOD!!

Here are a couple of my favorites….

Trader Joe’s Organic whole wheat pasta …. and a steal of a deal found this week also at TJ’s – “Green Fin” Organic white wine for a whopping $3.99!! Now I don’t normally seek out organic wine, but this stuff is SOOOO good! And the price is certainly right!  If you like white wine for summertime and have a Trader Joe’s nearby, DO TRY this Green Fin stuff.  It’s great!!!

So, I made a super yummy dinner the other night.  I used the organic whole-wheat pasta with leeks, peas, prosciutto, marinated artichoke hearts, and parmesan.  Here are a couple of pics of the process and the plated results.  I used a Martha Stewart “Everyday Food” recipe for inspiration.  I also made an easy favorite… slow-roasted plum tomatoes.  We love tomatoes and these that are topped with a few bread crumbs and some grated parmesan are “to die for” delicious.

I LOVE using parchment paper when I bake these tomatoes!

So there you have it in a nutshell.  My life for the past few weeks.  Here’s hoping it won’t be another month before I have more to blog about!

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Mishmash

Its been a busy couple of weeks around here, and is about to get even busier!  Tomorrow we are making the trek across the Cascades to visit family in Eastern Washington.  Since this winter has been so mild, we’re not expecting any problems crossing the pass – Yay!  So today has been a busy one, recovering from two WILD days at work and packing for our little trip.  It will be great to see #2 Son and DDIL, as well as Gramps and my brother too.  Upon returning home, I’ll have one day to do laundry and pack up for my next two days at work.  Here’s hoping next week at work will be slightly less berserk than this week – but of course there are no guarantees on that!  We have been overflowing (literally! We had to open an “overflow” unit) with tiny babies of late.  Of course, while not so fun for parents, this is job security for us! 🙂

Here is a snap, taken today right outside my front door.  I have to say that I can sympathize with the folks on the east coast… they are having an abominable  winter this year, while we bask in sunshine.  What seems odd to me is that last winter we had repeated blasts of snow (a total of 60 inches here!) and that didn’t make the news.  Yet two big storms in the east, and it’s all we hear about.  Whatever.

Too bad the Winter Olympics didn’t happen LAST winter.  I say that because Vancouver (less than 100 miles from us) is having the exact warm winter we are loving… and had the exact same crazy white winter we had last year.  This year they are trucking in snow to some of the snowboard events areas… Last year, well lets just say that wouldn’t have been necessary!  Speaking of the Olympics, we are SO excited that NEXT WEEK we will be attending two events.  Look for us Tuesday at the USA vs Switzerland Ice Hockey game and rink-side at the Short Track Speed Skating venue on Wednesday. Obviously, I’ll be doing a blog posting on this Olympic adventure – after it happens!

Even though it’s a warm winter, it’s still winter, which for me is an excuse to make soup!  We both love home made soup and last Saturday I made a nice pot of Minestrone.  Here is a photo:

Again I used Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine as a  guideline for my minestrone creation.  It was oh-so delicious, and dear hubby said it was even better the next day.

After the soup, I made one of my very favorite recipes from Everyday Food.  It’s one I have prepared over and over, and never ceases to satisfy!  Asian Pork and Noodles.  Click HERE for a link to Martha’s actual recipe.  And yes, I don’t take license with this one, I make it just as it’s written.  Here it is…

Snow peas and broccoli simmer for about a minute with the noodles

Already sauteed pork strips sizzle with hoisin sauce and orange juice

Ahhhh, the finished product. Simply scrumptious!

Two weeks ago we managed to get our little car all set up to be towed behind our motorhome.  That was a fiasco, but to avoid looking backward, I’ll just say I’m glad it is all done!   Here is a little amateur movie made with my camera as I was following along behind hubby as he drove the motorhome and the “toad” (as it’s called in motor home lingo!) to the storage area…… Check it out here- at You Tube. I tried to embed it, but WordPress is not very accommodating with video!  We are planning a trip with our motor home in April — Spring Barrel Tasting here we come!  And in June, we hope to make a “big trip” and take our [soon to be] “RV cat” with us.  That will be hell on earth an experience!

Look for more next week from your humble “Olympics correspondent”!!!

This and that – what’s on my mind

Plants Back in September ’08 I did a post on “plants around the house”.  I had a “mystery plant” that bloomed and was so excited to learn that it was a Hoya (thanks Jayne and Glenda!).   Well it is blooming again and I just have to post another picture of it.  This time it’s blooming in TWO different colors!  May 2009 002

Maybe I am easily fascinated, but I’ll admit it, I’m simply loving this Hoya plant!!

You may also remember if you click on my previous plant post here, that I started an experiment with my African Violets.  Following the advice in my o-l-d houseplant book “Crockett’s Indoor Garden”, I took four leaf cuttings off my healthy African Violet, dipped them in rooting hormone, and inserted them at a 45 degree angle into a pot.  Then I developed a hearty dose of patience and waited.  I watered, I watched, and I waited.  I have been rewarded!!  May 2009 001What was once just four leaves is now an abundance of leafy green!!  When I first noticed the little “plantlets” appearing, I was so excited!  It worked!  Of course the true measure of success is if/when this little beauty actually blooms. This was my purple and white specimen, so theoretically when it blooms, it will also be of the purple/white variety.  Obviously I’ll post a photo of that “exciting” event, should it happen.

Food Yesterday in the late afternoon,  I pulled up a stool next to the stove and made (with love I may add, as it’s rather time consuming) some particularly delicious risotto.  I’ve made risotto before and liked it, but this was love at firMay 2009 005st bite!  The recipe is from the Martha Stewart “Everyday Food” magazine – back in April 2004.  Shame on me for waiting this long to try out this fantastic side dish!  It’s actually called Spring Risotto with peas and zucchini.  If you hate peas and/or zucchini, I’m sure you could substitute other green veggies.  Click here (the Martha Stewart Everyday Food website) for the full recipe.  May 2009 006

Start by cooking some lovely chopped zucchini in a 3 quart saucepan. When it is soft and golden, remove it and add your Arborio rice.

May 2009 007

In risotto, Arborio rice, imported from Italy is a must. Well in my opinion, it’s a must.  It has a higher starch content and makes the creamiest risotto.  Our friend Martha Stewart says it’s possible to substitute medium grain white rice.  That would probably work too.  I get my Arborio rice from Trader Joes.  Gotta love that store … great selection of slightly unusual things at very reasonable prices.  May 2009 009

Now for the time consuming part.  You add the broth just one cup at a time, stirring until nearly all the liquid is absorbed.  Then, and only then can you add another cup of broth.  This part of the recipe takes approximately 30 minutes.   Ahhh, this is the “made with love” part!  Then, at the very end you’ll add the zucchini, peas, and some parmesan cheese (yum).  May 2009 011

Here it is, the final result…  Spring Risotto, a slice of ham, and some delicious steamed broccoli.  All I can say is that I’m so glad there’s leftover risotto for tonight!

So last night’s evening meal ends today’s tale of  “this and that”.  Has anybody else made risotto?  Propagated plants?  I’d love to hear all about it!!  🙂